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Irish primary teachers discouraged from saying “boys & girls”

Ireland’s official national curriculum body has encouraged teachers to study “crossdressing” for “erotic enjoyment,” “drag,” “gender queer” and “gender-fluid” identities as part of an “SPHE and RSE toolkit” for primary schools.

Teachers were also discouraged from using the phrase “boys and girls,” and were told instead to seek a more gender neutral alternative.

The revelation came from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), which is a sub-branch of the Department of Education.

In two documents entitled “An inclusive approach to SPHE/RSE – LGBTI+ identities” and “Using inclusive and respectful language,” the NCCA outlines how teachers should conduct such classes:

“Irish primary classrooms reflect the diversity of cultures, identities, backgrounds and families that make up Ireland. As a teacher, it is important that you strive to create a positive and inclusive experience in SPHE/ RSE…”

The documents encourage teachers to “use inclusive language,” including urging students to use each others’ preferred pronouns.

“You may also need to be aware of your own use of language,” it says.

“Instead of calling the children to attention with “boys and girls …” get their attention in different ways.”

The document also advises teachers to use “picture books” to teach children about gender identity:

“Make sure toys and activities in your class are open to everyone. Picture books are a useful resource to support children expanding their understanding and perceptions of gender. Be aware that for some children, their gender identity is evolving. This means that they may be transitioning from one gender to another, while for some other children, their gender can be a fluid.”

Under “Further Reading,” a list of resources is included for teachers, including one on “Helpful terms and phrases” from the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland (TENI).



This links to a glossary of LGBT phrases which teachers should study for classes, including, but not limited to: “crossdresser,” “demigender,” “gender fluid,” “bigender,” “multigender,” “agender,” “gender queer,” “gender neutral,” “gender variant,” and many more.

The “Further Reading” page also includes a link to a resource by LGBT Ireland, which features a section on “crossdressing” for “erotic enjoyment” and “drag”:

“Transvestites ‘dress’ for numerous reasons. Some feel the strong need to express femininity while others might cross dress for artistic expression or erotic enjoyment…This might also include drag kings or queens, who may use exaggerated gender performances as a means of exploring their gender identity.”

Notably, this link uses the word “transvestite,” although the previous TENI link describes this as an “offensive” and “outdated” term.

The LGBT Ireland link also describes “non-binary” gender, saying “Some people identify as having a non-binary gender identity. These people do not identify as either a man or a woman.” It also encourages the use of “ze/zir” pronouns instead of “he/him” or “she/her.”

The page linked by the teacher’s resources features a link to “a more extensive list of different gender” terms.

This list includes, among other things:

  • “Ladyboy” identity
  • “Doll” identity, which it describes as “people who dress up as plastic dolls, usually including a rubber mask”
  • A “nibling” – a “gender-neutral” way of saying “sibling”
  • “Two-Spirit”
  • “Strap On”

..and many more.

One LGBT Ireland document linked by NCCA describes the “gender fluid” identity, saying:

“Gender Fluid: Is a non-binary gender identity. Gender fluid individuals experience different gender identities at different times. A gender fluid person’s gender identity can be multiple genders at once, then switch to none at all, or move between single gender identities. Some gender fluid people regularly move between only a few specific genders.”

It also adds that children studied “were strongly gender non-conforming from the time they could communicate” – i.e. they were transgender from the time they were babies or toddlers.

The original NCCA teacher’s documents urge educators to avoid “hetero-normative” or “cis-normative” phrases in Irish classrooms, adding:

“Beware of using language…that does not provide for the fluidity of gender or sexuality in some people (binary-based language).”

Furthermore, it says that “all lessons” should help to “normalise” LGBTI+ identities “throughout the curriculum”:

“LGBTI+ identities should not be confined to a single lesson or group of lessons but rather all lessons should aim to normalise LGBTI+ identities throughout the curriculum.”

The revelation comes a week after Justice Minister Helen McEntee announced a new national strategy against “gender-based violence,” including teaching LGBTQI+ issues and sexual consent to primary school students.

McEntee seeks LGBTQI+ education at primary level as crime surges

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